BROMLEY, Sir Thomas (c.1585-1641), of Holt Castle, Worcs. and Shrawardine Castle, Salop
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Family and Education
b. c.1585, 1st s. of Sir Henry Bromley* of Shrawardine Castle and Elizabeth da. of Sir Thomas Pelham of Eythropp, Bucks.1 educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1600, aged 15.2 m. (1) settlement c.1606-7,3Anne (d. by 1617),4 da. of Sir Richard Walsh of Shelsley Walsh Worcs., 2s. 2da.;5 (2) 14 Apr. 1635, Katherine, wid. of one Copinger, s.p.6 kntd. 23 July 1603;7 suc. fa. 1615.8 bur. 10 Sept. 1641.9
Bromley was probably elected for Worcestershire in 1614 as a result of the influence of his father and aunt. His father sat for the county twice, and his aunt Meriel was the widow of John Lyttleton†, who had sat three times for Worcestershire under Elizabeth. In 1614 Meriel’s son, Sir Thomas Littleton*, was still a minor and consequently his mother controlled the family’s political interest in Worcestershire.
Bromley is known to have spoken twice in the Addled Parliament. On 2 May he delivered what was described as ‘a long set speech’, in which he argued that the question of undertaking should be buried in oblivion.10 In the debate concerning Bishop Neile’s attack on the Commons on 25 May, he announced that he ‘did prize the honour of the nobility and his country as he did the salvation of his own soul’, and moved that the House should complain to the Lords before going to the king.11 Earlier the same day he introduced a bill for blacksmiths and nail men.12
Bromley’s extravagance exacerbated financial difficulties that were already evident in his father’s lifetime. He married an heiress whose lands were reputedly worth 1,000 marks a year, but these were quickly sold. After his father’s death Bromley suppressed a settlement Sir Henry had drawn up giving Bromley only a life interest in the estate.13 This enabled Bromley to borrow large sums which, in 1617, he invested in a privateering expedition licensed by the ambassador of Savoy against the Spanish West Indies. However the expedition was a failure and his remaining credit was destroyed.14 Subsequently a series of extents and outlawries were issued against Bromley as his creditors tried to reclaim at least part of their money.15
In late 1627 Bromley thought he had found a way out of his financial difficulties when he arranged for his eldest son, Henry, to marry the daughter of Richard Newport*, in return for a dowry of £5,000. Although Bromley owed at least twice as much as this, he probably believed the dowry would allow him to compound with his creditors at easy rates.16 Following the announcement of fresh elections, Bromley’s cousin Sir Thomas Littleton was persuaded not to stand for the county, allowing Bromley, who may have wanted parliamentary privilege to give himself time to negotiate with his creditors, to be elected in his place. As an outlaw, however, there were naturally complaints against his election, which were heard at the privileges committee on 20 Mar. 1628.17 The outcome of this investigation is unknown, but on 1 May Bromley was again outlawed for debt. There is no evidence that he tried to claim privilege, and since he played no recorded part in proceedings it seems likely that he never took his seat.18
Bromley’s hopes of clearing his debts foundered in 1630, when Newport refused to pay more than £2,000 of the dowry. Fearing that if Bromley used the money to pay off his debts in general no provision would be made for his son and daughter-in-law, Newport claimed the settlement specified that the dowry should only be used to clear debts encumbering the lands assigned for his daughter’s jointure.19 Newport and Henry Bromley purchased the extents on the Bromley estates, encouraging creditors to accept easy terms by informing them that, because of the settlement made by Bromley’s father, they would have no claims after Bromley’s death. By the mid-1630s Newport and Henry Bromley had possession of most of the estate. The remaining creditors, who had to wait until the extents bought out by Newport and his son-in-law had been discharged before they could extend the estate themselves, complained to the Privy Council. Newport was ordered to repay the creditors out of the residue of the dowry, but possession of the estate was left in the hands of Henry Bromley and Newport.20
Bromley was buried in Holt parish church on 10 Sept. 1641. As he had died intestate, the Consistory Court of Worcester granted letters of administration on 25 Sept. to his widow.21 An inventory of his goods, made on 14 Sept., valued them at £150 19s. 10d.; over half consisted of crops and farm animals and the rest included a library of mostly French and Italian books.22 His grandson Henry sat for Worcestershire in 1660.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Ben Coates
- 1. Suss. Gens.: Lewes Cent. comp. J. Comber, 206; Nash, Worcs. i. 595.
- 2. Al. Ox.
- 3. C2/Chas.I/F39/32.
- 4. C2/Jas.I/S35/13.
- 5. Nash, i. 595.
- 6. Soc. Gen. microfiche WO/REG/95100/1-4.
- 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 126.
- 8. WARD 7/55/245.
- 9. Soc. Gen. microfiche WO/REG/95100/1-4.
- 10. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 121, 125.
- 11. Ibid. 350.
- 12. Ibid. 347.
- 13. C2/Jas.I/S35/13.
- 14. CSP Ven. 1617-19, pp. 90-1, 93-4, 268; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I ii. 81; C2/Jas.I/B5/36; S35/13; E112/203/62.
- 15. C8/77/108; PC2/48, pp. 63-6.
- 16. C2/Chas.I/B34/53; C22/10/39.
- 17. CD 1628, ii. 37.
- 18. C8/77/108.
- 19. C2/Chas.I/F7/9; B34/53; C21/F15/2; C22/10/39.
- 20. PC2/48, pp. 63-6; CSP Dom. 1637, pp. 117-18.
- 21. Worcs. RO, Consistory Ct. Wills etc. 1641, no. 38.
- 22. Inventories of Worcs. Landed Gentry ed. M. Wanklyn (Worcs. Hist. Soc. n.s. xvi), 167-70.